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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Food)

The world of ancient Romans abounded in a number of amazing curiosities and information. The source of knowledge about the life of the Romans are mainly works left to us by ancient writers or discoveries. The Romans left behind a lot of strange information and facts that are sometimes hard to believe.

Cumin in ancient times

Ancient Rome used a range of overseas spices such as black pepper, long pepper, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. However, the most frequently used raw materials, both in cooking and in medicine, that were grown locally – coriander, mint and Roman cumin. The last of them was used both as an ingredient of dishes, a cosmetic raw material and a ritual plant. Where was this spice traded? What diseases were treated with it? Answer in the article below.

Exaggerated feasting and vomiting in Roman world

Excessive consumption of food and excess was something the ancient Romans believed should be avoided at all costs. The ideal Roman should be devoted to the gods, his family and homeland, and above all, he should live a simple life and does not demand glory. However, as it always happens, in practice it was different and the Romans, as conquerors of the world, departed from their ideals, e.g. they indulged in boisterous feasts and decadent dishes.

Moralia – collection of Plutarch’s texts

Plutarch of Chaeronea (c. 50 – c. 125 CE) is a Greek historian whose most famous work is the collection of lives of famous figures of the ancient world – the so-called Parallel Lives. His other speeches and contents, collected under the name of Moralia, have also survived to our times.

Frogs in world of ancient Greeks and Romans

Ancient Greeks and Romans identified frogs with harmony, fertility or debauchery and the goddess Aphrodite (Venus). Ancient writers devoted numerous texts to frogs, including “Batrachomyomachia”, which tells about the war of mice with frogs and is heroicomic. The authorship of this work is unknown, but Homer is considered the creator.

Bucellatum – Roman biscuit

The late-Roman Codex Theodosianus, which is a collection of Roman laws, mentions that a Roman soldier should be equipped with a buccellatum ac panem, vinum quoque atque acetum, sed et laridum, carnem verbecinam, or “hardtack and bread, wine too and vinegar, but also bacon and mutton”(VII.4.6). Hardtack, vinegar and mutton were to be enough for two days, and then the soldier was to use bread, wine and bacon.

Basil – spice of Greeks and Romans

Basil was already known in ancient Greece and Rome. It was known as ocimum (Latin) or basilikos (in Greek “a herb worth a king”). It is mentioned i.e. by Pliny the Elder, who distinguishes one type of this herb. He also notes that basil may have white, yellow or purple flowers.

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